BMX families take on Great Salt Lake NationalsSep 27, 2021 12:32PM ● By Greg James
Riders like Jake Shepherd (#1) came from 31 different states to ride at the Great Salt Lake Nationals, he finished second overall. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
BMX racing in Salt Lake is a family sport that has seen an increase in participants over the last year.
Racers as young as three took to the track at a national event in July. Several Utah residents brought home trophies.
“I started racing when I was 10,” the 2017 world champion Todd Parry said. “I have seen three generation riders on the track. Grandpa, grandma, son, daughter, grandson and granddaughter. Tell me another sport that the entire family can compete on the same track the same weekend.”
Rad Canyon BMX track in West Jordan has become a nationally renowned facility.
The track hosted the annual Great Salt Lake Nationals July 30-Aug. 1. The event featured 899 unique riders from six countries and 31 states. This was the 30th consecutive year of the event (it was canceled last season because of the pandemic).
On Saturday, July 31, at the nationals event they ran 229 motos (races), an increase of more than 30 from two years ago.
“The interest has grown,” USA BMX Director of Nationals Race Operations Chris Luna said. “We have seen an increase in numbers in the last few years.”
Knox Perkins of Sandy won the nine-year-old expert division in Saturday's racing.
“I have traveled all over the country racing,” Perkins said. “I think winning makes it fun.”
Perkins will spend approximately $20,000 this season for travel expenses, equipment and event fees.
He raced in Belgium at the BMX world championships.
“This is a great track, my home track. I encourage my friends to try it out,” Perkins said.
“We are spoiled here in Utah to have Rad Canyon,” Parry said. “It is a top-notch track and that is why we have national events here.”
USA BMX is the sanctioning body that oversees nearly 70,000 riders and 375 tracks across the country. They also oversee the National team.
BMX racing made its Olympic debut in the 2008 Beijing games. Connor Fields from Las Vegas is a member of the national team and competed in the Tokyo Olympics. He was the defending gold medalist and suffered an injury in the semifinals race.
Rad Canyon opened in 1996 when it moved from its former location in Murray. The track has a large starting hill with an eight position stating gate. It’s three paved turns lead to long straightaways with a table top, roller and rhythm section.
“The reason I loved BMX is that you can race when you want,” Parry said. “It is not like a team sport where you have to be there on game night and practice night. You can race as much as you want. If you want to go on vacation with the family you can. You also progress on your own. When I get in the gate it doesn’t matter who my sponsor is or who my dad or brother is, no politics. Whoever gets to the stripe is the winner. The coach does not decide if you are going to play or not. You can take it as far as you want to.”
Parry currently lives in Eagle Mountain and has officially retired from the sport although he still shows up and races once in a while.